Is it possible to write a brief Syllabus of Errors of Donald Trump and the Trumpist Republican Pary? Hardly - yet what follows are a few of the lowliest of the lowlights, in three categories.
This list intends to focus on root causes rather than specific superficial manifestations. Most voters respond to issues like medical care, economics, and the virus - which are symptoms of the deeper dysfunctions. Some other voters are simply angry and destructive and want a target to vent a lifetime of humiliation, and want validation to attack it.
In the 2020 election, most voters have already decided on either a straight Democratic ticket or a straight Republican ticket, no matter what. But perhaps what follows will be helpful for those few who are undecided about whether to vote or for whom to vote.
The fundamental offense of Donald Trump against America is his rejection and active assault on the Enlightenment ideals of America's founders.
Thus he is in permanent salesman mode - telling the audience whatever is good for Trump, or whatever they want to hear, promising whatever they want - then blaming others for failure to deliver. The notion that he was simply delusional was shattered by the Woodward interviews - his lies about the virus were calculated and intentional. Madison saw it all coming in Federalist #10.
Human and social perfectibility. While many Enlightenment thinkers thought that perfectibility was a rational goal for a rational government, subsequent events suggest that goal will always elude us. That does not mean that it is not worth trying to improve the life of every person. Trump doesn't even try, because everybody has always been corrupt and always will be, just like him. His corruption is unprecedented - actively trying to advance his personal business fortunes at every opportunity while in office. Hamilton saw it all coming in Federalist #73. And he demands complicity from everybody in his administration and the Federal civil service. But pitch defileth the hand that toucheth it, and the resume of the hand that enabled it.
L'etat c'est moi. "A government of laws and not of men". Consistent with rejection of rational inquiry, Trump rejects the notion that the same law applies to everybody - a notion even embraced by Genghis Khan - in favor of one law for his friends, a different one for his enemies, and none at all for himself.
Jobs-Friends-ism. The oldest theology in the Bible is that of Job's friends: "God is good and loves good people and rewards good people and hates evil and punishes evil people, SO if I have wealth and power it is because I am good, and if you do not it is because you are evil." This principle has been beloved by the rich and powerful in all times and places, along with its corollary - "To try to benefit you evil people would thwart the will of God and thus would be wrong." Trump, quite possibly unknowingly, embodies this principle perfectly - We're here and they're not". Although for political expediency he TALKS about improving the lot of his voting base, he ACTS invariably for the benefit of his rich and powerful friends - billionaire tax relief, deregulation, reactionary judiciary. After all, they are rich and powerful, so they deserve his favor.
A related notion is the divine right of kings - that they were put in positions of power as reward for godly virtue, and obedience to royal authority is obedience to divine will. In fact, most royal lines were established by violence and maintained the same way. Trump accepts the proposition that he is "the second coming of God" - and refuses to reject the possibility of violently disputing the outcome of the election.
Thus he embraces enemies with like-minded corrupt and authoritarian foreign leaders - praising Putin, Xi, Kim, Netanyahu, MBS, Erdogan, Duterte - and alienates allies whose leaders make western liberal democracy work - Merkel, Macron, etc.
Donald Trump has perverted the Republican Party in a variety of ways -
Thus members of his own party are reluctant to propose, endorse, or support any specific plan of action other than Trump's latest, no matter how ill-conceived.
The Republican party untethered itself from radical change in 1877 with the Corrupt Bargain, except for a brief period of Theodore Roosevelt's trust-busting. But it did not fully embrace feudalism until it adopted the Southern Strategy in the 1960's.
Feudalism as practiced in the South from 1619 was based on a small hereditary nobility of landowners and two classes of serfs, free whites and slave blacks. The key to minority rule at that time was to keep the serfs struggling with each other to prevent them from uniting against the nobility.
Although it's tempting to blame many of the modern Republican Party's lapses on Trump, its current course was set by Nixon, Newt Gingrich, and the Tea Party, then brought to full flowering by the Freedom Caucus and Trump, united in recent years by racist hatred for and opposition to Obama and all his works, especially the ACA.
So the modern Republican Party has come full circle back to 1619 by aspiring to and often achieving minority rule based on several principles:
The modern Republican Party does not even try to build a persistent national majority, because it can still win presidential elections by exploiting the rural bias of the Electoral College, and can still control the Senate by winning in a majority of rural states with a minority of population, and by filibuster when a minority in the Senate.
With minority rule firmly in place,
The Republican Party could mount a sincere effort to widen its tent to achieve a persistent national majority. But Trumpists have purged the party organization of centrists in favor of a cult of personality. Preserving minority rule against a changing demographic will require increasingly authoritarian measures. It does not appear that Trump is competent and focused enough to really take charge, but by establishing a cult-of-personality ethos, he paves the way for his more able successor. Also paving the way is William Barr, who is unapologetic about seeking an unaccountable reactionary Republican president - an emperor. While Barr pretends to support Trump now, his real target is Trump's more competent successor.
As for Republican senators - they silently support Trump and Barr, either from conviction or from fear of a Trump tweet igniting his base or his donors against them and provoking a primary challenge. Their silence, whether from cowardice or lack of principle, is their great offense.
If minority rule is lost, the national Republican Party can follow the example of the California Republican Party into irrelevance and oblivion, much like the Whig Party in 1856-1860 and the American Independent Party after Wallace.
There is nothing to buy or sign up for on this website.
Please report dead links, typos, and factual errors to
web-report at comcast dot net
Visitor count for this page starting 16 September 2020: .
2020-offenses.html 1.12 21/05/11